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January 24, 2014

Eek! I missed WHAT? Top 10 Background Screening Mistakes Pt 2

Last week we began a discussion about the top background screening mistakes that can derail a good hiring plan. Let's continue with the countdown of the top mistakes:

missing-puzzle-piece#7: Not implementing enough screening products
A company that doesn’t screen an applicant properly is opening itself up to all kinds of problems: the new hire may not have the credentials he claimed, he may have a criminal record, he may even be violent. A bad hire can cost a company thousands of dollars in terms of hiring, training costs, salary, and replacement costs!
It is important to make sure the background screening policy is robust enough to paint a full picture of the candidate.
Full criminal history: if it is relevant to the job, a good practice is to check every county the applicant has lived, worked, or studied in the last 7 years.
Nationwide criminal database search: this search can be used as a ‘net’ to possibly catch a crime that was committed in a place that was not targeted to search. This search also includes a social trace, which will show every address that is associated with that person’s social security number. If they are omitting an address, this search may uncover it.
References: it is important to check references, and ask in depth questions that verify the applicant’s claims.
Education verification: Applicants often claim to have a degree when in fact they never attended a class! If applicable, make certain a degree is verified with the college or university which it was obtained. Verify dates attended, majors, grades etc.

#6: Failing to screen contract/temporary workers
temporary workerThe majority of companies have people on their premises that are outsourced staff or sub-contracted workers who are not officially “company employees.” These are people who are employed by other companies, but provided as a service. Examples of these are office cleaning people, guards, gardeners, etc.
These individuals pose as much risk as any permanent staff member and often are even more of a potential threat. Here are some reasons why:
The contract company may be cutting corners. The contract company could be trying to save a few dollars by not conducting proper background checks on their workers. This decision could result in missing crucial information about the employee’s background.
These employees have just as much access. Outsourced and contract staff often have free reign of the building. They have access to areas restricted to employees only. Cleaners, for example, have access to offices where sensitive information may be stored. Plant watering people have the same ability to roam freely through most company buildings. A dishonest person could have a heyday with this much freedom.
These employees are often less supervised. Contract workers often work after hours when company management is absent from the office. Cleaners and night guards, for example, are usually in the building when very few people are present. A person of dubious character could hit a jackpot of valuable information from credit card numbers to sensitive company secrets, all without the company’s knowledge.
These employees are subject to the same stresses and issues. Contract workers have the same financial stresses and are just as likely to have a drug or alcohol problem, or a criminal history. Issues like these can push a person to take advantage of an opportunity to steal or commit fraud.
It is important to put measures in place to “weed out” any contract worker who may be a risk to the workplace.
What to do: here are 2 options to take to make certain contract employees are screened properly.
1. Make sure the contract company does a background check. Review your contract with any outsourced company. As part of service contracts, you should insist on screening as part of any agreement. Require that it clearly states the contract company is required to conduct background screening through a reputable third party company.
2. Screen contract employees in-house. Conduct background screening on any employee who works for the company in the same manner, whether they are regular employees or contract employees. You can choose the reputable third party company who screens the employee AND the types of checks that you feel are appropriate. This process will help you maintain control, and minimize the risk of a bad hire and unsafe workplace.

#5: Not disclosing the fact that applicants will be screened and gaining their consent
signatureOne of the key responsibilities of the employer is to disclose any screening process to the applicant. Employer must disclose in writing to applicant that they will be the subject of a background report as part of the employment selection process.
This document needs to stand alone, it does not need to be part of the employee handbook or the application.

#4: Screening in an unorganized manner
Companies that do not have a consistent background screening policy set up as part of their hiring best practices are making a big mistake. A hiring manager cannot choose to run checks on some applicants and ignore checking others, because of EEOC guidelines, and overall good sense. Screen everyone in the same manner, and have a list of the type of screening that is performed for each job function. For example, do not just screen for criminal history if you have a ‘feeling in your gut’. That can get you sued!

We will count down the final 3 background screening mistakes in Part 3 of this blog, next week. Happy hiring!

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 25 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Lisa May

Lisa May is the Executive Vice President for Data Facts.

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